Catholic, Independent Elementary Schools Serving Chicago's Children Since 1876

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Alumni Profiles

Joan Merlo ASH'72


For the past seven years, Joan Merlo ASH’72 has been at nearly every Sacred Heart alumni event – or has at least helped to plan it. Her infectious laughter captures the attention of alums of all ages, and her stories about her time on Sheridan Road have them laughing along with her. Joan’s love for Sacred Heart is unsurpassed – and the Sheridan Road Alumni Association is thrilled for her to be President for the next two years.

Joan first became involved with the Sheridan Road Alumni Association (“SRAA”) about 7 years ago, after attending an Alumni Reunion. She attended an SRAA Board meeting and enjoyed that the Board was dedicated to community building. She felt a like-mindedness among the Board members, regardless of their Sacred Heart graduation year.

As one of the few Board members who attended the Sacred Heart high school, Joan has a unique perspective on the school and its rich traditions. She spent a total of 12 years on Sheridan Road and witnessed the changes of Vatican II, the nuns’ appearance changing from habits to regular street clothes, and the closing of the Sacred Heart Chapel. She appreciates that the coursework was rigorous, and distinctly remembers an “English exercise” – an assignment given in the morning, which was to be completed in the afternoon. When she arrived at the University of Wisconsin at Madison for college, she thought the classes were easier than those at Sacred Heart!

Looking back, Joan appreciates how unique and special her time on Sheridan Road was. She feels that her time at Sacred Heart has deeply affected the person that she is today, and she speaks about the school with an amazing amount of awe and reverence. She describes Feast Days, Congé announcements, and presentations to Reverend Mother Regan in detail, as if they happened yesterday. While she cherishes coming back to campus, and keeping up with the evolution of Sacred Heart, she is always surprised at how modern the school is now.

Joan is looking forward to her time as Board President, especially working to engage and connect with alums for Alumni Weekend and other events. She is dedicated to building our beloved alumni community in creative and dynamic ways so that Sheridan Road alums of all generations and geographic locations feel connected to the school.

When she is not at Sacred Heart alumni events, Joan works as an accounting supervisor for Prairie States Enterprises, and is a non-equity actor in her free time. She is currently studying the plays of Shakespeare, one by one. She spends as much time as she can with family, especially her two granddaughters. Finally, she has her own urban chicken coop, and when she hosts alumni meetings in her backyard, she serves delicious eggs from her own birds.